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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Moscow Terror Attack and the State of Global Terrorism; The Significance of U.S.-Israel Rift and the Path Forward in Gaza; How Politics, Economics and Technology are Shaping America and the World; Learning from Revolutions of the Past; "Age of Revolutions," a New Book by Fareed Zakaria. The World's Happiest Country. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 24, 2024 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria, coming to you from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the program, terror in Moscow. Camouflaged gunmen opened fire in the Russian capital on Friday killing scores of concert goers. ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly rampage. I will ask Daniel Byman about the state of jihadists terror today.

And Bibi Netanyahu insists he will press ahead with plans for a Rafah invasion despite objections from President Biden. After more than five months of devastating war, is support from Israel's strongest ally, the United States, fractured? What is the best way forward? I'll have a debate with "The New York Times'" Bret Stephens and a former ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer.

Also we're living in an age of revolutions. From politics to economics, to technology. I'll sit down with Walter Isaacson to talk about how such forces are shaping America and the world today, and what we can learn from revolutions of the past.

It's all a preview of my brand-new book, "Age of Revolutions."


ZAKARIA: I'll bring you "My Take" later in the show, but first I wanted to get right to the terror attack in Moscow in which at least 133 people were killed. A branch of ISIS called Islamic State-Khorasan or ISIS-K claimed responsibility. Russian authorities have said suspects directly involved in the rampage were arrested near the border of Ukraine.

So what can we make of all of this? And is Putin laying the groundwork to blame Ukraine? I want to bring in Daniel Byman. Daniel is the director of Georgetown's Security Studies Program and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Dan, welcome. I want to ask you first why Russia or why is ISIS

hitting Russia? Is this payback for Russia's consistent and fairly brutal support for the Syrian regime during that civil war between Assad and ISIS in some sense?

DANIEL BYMAN, DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN'S SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM: Russia has been at the top or near the top of the list of ISIS for many years. You want to go way back in history, whether it's the anti- Soviet struggle in the '80s or the Chechen civil war in the '90s and early 2000s. The jihadist movement has been very focused on Russia.

ISIS itself saw Russia as one of its top enemies because it really was a game changer in the Syrian civil war, backing the Syrian government against ISIS and like-minded groups. And ISIS-K itself has also emphasized Russia as a threat, using that to criticize the Taliban, its enemy, by saying that the Taliban have been too close to Russia.

And finally, ISIS-K has a lot of Central Asians and people from the Caucasus in its ranks. And that gives it a lot of potential to attack Russia.

ZAKARIA: Right. The K, the Khorasan, refers to Afghanistan. What lessons do you draw down from this attack? ISIS, we've sort of forgotten about it for a while. What are the lessons you draw from this attack?

BYMAN: I would say there's good news and bad news. So the obvious bad news is this is a dangerous bloody group and it's capable of reaching outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan area where it's been focused for many years. So it did a deadly attack at the beginning of this year in Iran. There have been disrupted plots in Europe and now we see this horrific attack in Russia.


The silver lining to all this, though, is that U.S. intelligence seems to have at least some ability to monitor the group. The warning that the United States provided Russia, which Russia ignored, went unheeded but it still shows that U.S. intelligence is tracking this group effectively.

ZAKARIA: Is that a shift? Have we become used to the idea that U.S. intelligence, you know, got Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction wrong, and things like that. Do you do you think U.S. intelligence has learned from those mistakes and is in better shape because it did well on Ukraine, it's done well here?

BYMAN: U.S. intelligence has been tracking counterterrorism and working against the highest groups for over 20 years now. And it built up tremendous experience. It's not perfect, it's almost impossible to stop every terrorist attack. But it has a lot of expertise and remarkable capabilities, often working with partners around the world. And it's gotten quite good at this.

ZAKARIA: So, Dan, why is Putin blaming Ukraine? And given that there's no evidence that Ukraine was involved. And will it work? BYMAN: Putin has promised to provide security to Russians and he

really made his initial reputation by winning or at least severely defeating jihadis forces in places like Chechnya and the Caucuses in general. So this attack is really an embarrassment to him, even a humiliation given the warning, and Ukraine is the war of the day, so Putin is trying to say, here's our enemy today, and they're responsible for all bad things including this attack, even though there's no evidence of this.

Despite that, at least some Russians are likely to believe it. They're inundated with regime propaganda. Their ability to access other information is limited or at times even twisted. So this will have some support in Russia, but it's still a tremendous embarrassment for the regime.

ZAKARIA: And when you think about going forward, is it possible that Putin will get diverted from the war in Ukraine and pushed towards, I don't know, somewhere in the south, in the caucuses, somewhere where he thinks he can strike ISIS or is the main focus still going to be Ukraine, you think?

BYMAN: The overwhelming focus is going to be Ukraine. That's where Putin has been putting a huge amount of resources, the lives of Russians, tremendous cost in general into the fight. There may be some symbolic high-profile effort to blow something up or take action against ISIS-K or some entity that Russia claims is linked to it. But Ukraine still going to be where almost all Russia's resources go.

ZAKARIA: Dan, this was incredibly helpful and insightful. Thank you. Really helped us.

BYMAN: Thank you for having me.

ZAKARIA: We will be back with Bret Stephens and Daniel Kurtzer on the worsening public rift between the United States and one of its closest allies, Israel.



ZAKARIA: This Week, Benjamin Netanyahu said he would stand firm in his plans for a ground offensive in Rafah despite strong concerns from President Biden. This is the latest in an increasingly public rift between the two allies, which came to the fore last week when the senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said Netanyahu had lost his way and urged Israelis to replace him.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the humanitarian situation worsens by the day, with the U.N. warning that famine in the north is imminent. So what is the best way forward?

Bret Stephens is a columnist at "The New York Times" and a former editor-in-chief of the "Jerusalem Post." Daniel Kurtzer is a former U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt. He's now a professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton. Welcome both.

Ambassador, let me start with you by asking how serious is this rift? The U.S. is now sponsoring a resolution far from vetoing resolutions, calling for ceasefire. It is now sponsoring them. Peter Beinart in "The New York Times" says this is a kind of existential moment of watershed for the gap between Zionism and liberalism developing. How do you see it?

DANIEL KURTZER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: I think we're heading towards a much more serious crisis, but there's still time to avert it. Netanyahu and Biden have agreed that a delegation of Israeli senior officials will visit Washington this week to try to narrow those differences. The real issue is how much of an offensive Israel conducts in Rafah. I think we're of one mind that Israel needs to defeat Hamas. We're of one mind on the return of hostages. But we're quite concerned that a major offensive in Rafah will have severe humanitarian consequences.

ZAKARIA: Bret, is this as big a watershed as someone like Beinart is saying?

BRET STEPHENS, OPINION COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: No, because if you look at the long history of American-Israeli relations, there have always been periods of crisis. You can go back to the Ford administration, the Eisenhower administration, the Reagan administration even. They've always -- the relationship has always repaired itself because there are shared interests and shared values. And I think this is another one of those moments.

And as you pointed out, there is a shared interest in defeating Hamas and a shared belief that you have to get the hostages back and a value of one way or another, you have to resolve the humanitarian crisis. I think the Israelis understand that, too.


So really the difference is going to be a tactical one. How the Israelis go into Rafah, what way, on what timetable. I think that's the issue that needs to be solved, not a kind of a grand strategic rupture between these two countries.

ZAKARIA: But it does seem like already there is a, you know, huge humanitarian crisis that is largely as far as I can tell created by Israeli policy on the ground. So, for instance, David Miliband was on some Christiana Amanpour's show and was describing how truck after truck get stopped from entering Rafah because humanitarian supplies might include surgical, scissors or needles and things like -- you need to cut umbilical cords and things like that. And if there's one such thing found the entire truck is turned back.

You know, the U.N. says that something like a million people are close to famine conditions. Surely, you know, that stuff that the United States has been pressing the Israelis to change policy on but they are not. STEPHENS: Well, there are two points. The humanitarian crisis was

caused and it continues to be caused by Hamas, and the way in which it fights behind between and beneath civilians. They bear responsibility for the crisis. About 150 trucks as far as I know, maybe more are going in every day because the Gaza Strip is really a very small territory. Relieving the crisis isn't the main issue.

The biggest issue is achieving security for the trucks that do go in because you have a situation -- and this I do think falls on Israeli shoulders. You have a situation in which they haven't taken real control of the territory in which they are operating. So now armed gangs are looting those trucks. So, you know, David Petraeus has talked about the need for a kind of a hold and build strategy for the Israelis.

The problem for Israel is they have largely demobilized the army so they do not have the numbers of troops they need in order to assure the security of those convoys.

ZAKARIA: But, Ambassador, don't they still bear responsibility then if they're in this place and they are militarily in control, they do bear ultimately the responsibility for ensuring humanitarian supplies?

KURTZER: They certainly do. And this is a situation where Israeli tactics going into Gaza have helped create this situation. Bret is right that Hamas does hide in, under, around civilians. But the fact of the matter is that so much infrastructure has been destroyed and so many people have been dislocated from their homes that Israel now has to help the international community facilitate the humanitarian relief. And that has not gone as well as it should have until now.

ZAKARIA: All right. Hold on. We're going to come back and we're going to discuss the all-important question of what happens next, and what happens the day after this military operation ends, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: We are back with "The New York Times" columnist Bret Stephens and Daniel Kurtzer, who is a former U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt.

Bret, you floated an idea for a post-military occupation, kind of administration in Gaza, kind of Arab mandate at the Arab nations to come together. And I'm just wondering, on the two things with the thing we've been discussing and your solution related, which is given the scale of the Israeli invasion, given the devastation in Gaza, given the extraordinary opposition that has released in the Arab world, if you look at surveys, is it going to be easy to get Arabs to agree to, you know, kind of rolling on Israeli tanks or on the back of Israeli victories and govern the territory? Aren't they going to say no, we don't want any part of this?

STEPHENS: So easy no. But I think ultimately essential because for them a continuing crisis in Gaza is a door to hell for two reasons. Gaza, at least so long as Hamas has some kind of power in it, becomes an arm of Israeli power and it becomes a rallying cry for domestic discontents in places like Jordan, Egypt, and throughout --

ZAKARIA: Within an arm of Iranian power.

STEPHENS: Excuse me, an arm of Iranian power. And also for Arab states, especially moderate Arab the crisis in Gaza means an ongoing problem with their own domestic constituents so they really do have a long-term stake in seeing Gaza become, and I say this in a very long term. Something closer to Dubai than say two places like Yemen. The Israelis also have an interest because in the long term, Israel cannot afford to occupy Gaza indefinitely, can afford it in terms of the manpower it would require or the cost or the diplomatic pressure that would be brought on.

So a future for Palestinian state may end up looking a lot like the United Arab Emirates, which is progressive, federated and living in peace with its neighbors. That should be at least notionally something that Israelis and moderate Arab leaders' part the people who signed the Abraham Accords could get behind.

ZAKARIA: But, Bret, that seems, I mean, if Gaza as Dubai seems a stretch, a two-state solution strikes me is also a huge stretch right now because, I mean, Israeli public -- as far as I can tell is much more opposed to have been, it has ever been in its history.


And when it was in favor, it was still hard to do when Barack proposed it, when Olmert proposed it. It feels like that this is, you know, more fantasy than reality.

STEPHENS: You should have a 20-year horizon. Israelis are opposed to now because their fear, and I think it's entirely legitimate is that a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be quickly become Hamas-stan. And the problem they had in Gaza would be exponentially larger. But the purpose of Zionism is for Jews not to be ruled by others, but also not to rule others and I think most Israelis understand that in the long term, that's in their interest.

ZAKARIA: How can you say that when the occupation has gone on 56 years.

STEPHENS: Yes, the occupation has gone on 56 years, but there have been real efforts to resolve it, including in 2000 at Camp David, an offer that was rejected by the Palestinians and then several years later, another offer rejected by the current president Abbas. These things ultimately need to resolve themselves if the state of Israel is going to be a Jewish and democratic state. What matters really is the character of the Palestinian state.

Will it look like something like the UAE, a progressive, modern, forward-looking society, or is it going to be another outpost of Iranian power and look like Lebanon? And that's a material question that Israelis have to be comfortable having a good answer to.

ZAKARIA: Ambassador?

KURTZER: well, I'm not sure that we have to include in a vision the type of society that the Palestinians ultimately have. It's going to be their choice. What is necessary however, is that the two sides see a long-term horizon in which they can live next door to each other in peace and security perhaps with a large wall and peacekeeping and all kinds of other interventionist security mechanisms.

But the reality is by process of elimination, the only possible outcome of this conflict is two states. Frankly, over the past 25 years, we haven't made as much progress as we have wanted to, but we actually have made a lot of progress. The negotiations in 2008 with Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas actually came quite close on a number of issues.

President Obama put forward a proposal in 2014, which was quite ambitious. So the reality is that if they ever can get back to negotiations, which won't happen immediately, they may find that they're closer to agreement than it seems that the current time.

I agree with you, Fareed. The public mood in Israel is raw as we would understand quite well, trauma is still quite evident. The mood among the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, is quite raw. But given some time and the efforts of outside parties, the United States, Europe, the Arabs and others, we can start this pathway towards resuming a process leading to two states.

ZAKARIA: Ambassador, Bret, pleasure to have you both on.

Next on GPS, I will bring you "My Take" on why President Biden's approval ratings are so low when the economy is booming. When we come back.



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: And now, here's my take. The central puzzle about this election campaign that has pollsters and pundits opining is the disconnect between the state of the economy and President Biden's approval ratings.

A simple rule of thumb is that a president's approval rating predicts reelection. It used to be that the public's view of the president depended mostly on its view of the economy. But that relationship has gone haywire recently. Look at the economy. America is an unusually good health. It has recovered better from the COVID-19 pandemic than any other major economy. For two years, the unemployment rate has been under 4 percent, a streak the U.S. hasn't seen in nearly six decades.

Inflation, which was worrying, has dropped sharply since mid-2022 and is now 3.2 percent. Wage growth for lower-income workers over the past few years has outpaced that of high-income workers. The flood of good news also includes some unprecedented data. In a reversal of a decades-long trend, black participation in the labor force is now higher than white participation. And yet, President Biden's third-year average approval ratings were about 40 percent, the second lowest of modern presidents. It's currently 38 percent. Part of the answer is probably the disconnect around people's perception and feelings. While consumer sentiment is up dramatically from its all-time low in June 2022, and many people have positive views of their personal finances, they are gloomy on the economy at large.

Explanations for this to disconnect abound. Some say it's a time lag, others that people are being swayed by social media, still others that inflation tends to trump all else.


But I think the real answer is that politics today is no longer fundamentally driven by economics, that our political preferences are today shaped more by issues of culture, class, and tribalism than by how much money we make. That is one of the core theses of my new book, "Age of Revolutions," which argues that we are living through a huge backlash after decades of rapid accelerations in technology and globalization. And this backlash is largely centered on cultural anxiety in a fast-changing world.

The disconnect between economics and politics has been growing for a while. As Nate Cohn of the New York Times has noted, ever since Barack Obama's presidency, the rock-solid connection between the health of the economy and the president's approval ratings has "almost gone."

Trump presided over a very strong economy until COVID and yet his approval ratings were extremely low, just like Biden. And during the 2020 election, something extraordinary happened, Democrats and Republicans views of the economy flipped massively in the months around Biden's inauguration.

Democrats who had previously thought the economy was in terrible shape now thought it was booming and Republicans did the opposite. A similar flip flop occurred when Trump was elected. In other words, people's political leanings shape their views of the economy, not the other way around.

What then is shaping people's political affiliations? I argue in the book that it is identity, which encompasses culture, class, and tribalism. You see, in the 20th century, political leanings were shaped by economics. Where you sat economically determined where you voted politically.

It made sense in a much poorer age when vast numbers of working-class voters were fundamentally motivated by moving up to secure a decent living. Recall America's per capita GDP in 1950 adjusted for inflation was around $15,000. Most Western societies achieved that basic economic condition by the 1960s and people began to express their post materialistic identities and values. I'm drawing on powerful survey research done over decades by the social scientist Ronald Inglehart.

The rise of cultural politics explains the other great shift in polling that has been best observed by the Financial Times' John Burn- Murdoch, a racial realignment. All non-white voters, especially Hispanic and black voters, are becoming more evenly divided between left and right than they have been for decades.

Why? Perhaps many of them are realizing that on many of the social issues that now dominate, abortion, gay rights, immigration, they may lean more right than left.

In recent decades, globalization and technology have moved so fast that they have left many people in advanced societies deeply anxious. And when people see their world in flux, they often move not left on economics, but right on culture. They want the world to stop changing so fast, and they listen to politicians who promise to take them back to the good old days, to make America great again.

The left's instinct is to solve this problem by spending money. Biden's policies have disproportionately helped people in rural areas, without college degrees, in other words, Trump voters. But I doubt this will make them into Democrats.

The left needs to play more effectively on the new crossroads of politics, where culture and class have replaced economics.

Go to for a link to my column this week.

Next on GPS, I just mentioned my new book, it's out this week, and I wanted to tell you more about it in a conversation with Walter Isaacson when we come back.



ZAKARIA: As I mentioned before the break, my new book comes out this Tuesday. It's called "Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present." I want to do something unusual now. I am going to hand over the show to my dear friend, the great writer Walter Isaacson.

Walter is here to ask me some questions for a change.

WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN AND FORMER CEO, CNN: Hey, it's great to turn the table. You know, you write in this book that for more than four centuries, the world has been defined by a divide we call left and right, you know, big government versus smaller government.

There's a really amusing story at the beginning of the book that involves architecture and interior design about why do we call it left and right?

ZAKARIA: It's a strange happenstance just before the French Revolution. The French parliament, in those days called the Estates General, is summoned by the king. The king wants to tax. He needs rubber stamp approval. Parliament doesn't want to give it to him. And what ends up happening is the people who support the king end up gathering on the right-hand side of the room, to the right of the chair. And the people who are critical of the king end up on the left.


Then the parliament moves to Paris, where they are given a rectangular room. And this architect, Bien-Adrian Paris (ph), tries to design a new, by then called the National Assembly. And he puts people, you know, on the left and on the right, but not by ideology at that point. There was just -- it was kind of, you know, free seating. And what starts to happen is the people who want to overthrow the monarchy all end up sitting on the left of the presiding office, and the people who want to uphold the monarchy sit on the right. And from that, for 250 years, we have said left-wing when we mean somebody who's sort of liberal, and right-wing when we mean somebody who's conservative.

ISAACSON: You talk about revolutions, really, four centuries from the Netherlands and the French Revolution to today. But you say nowadays we live in a particularly revolutionary time. But, you know, doesn't seem in history we've always lived in revolutionary times. What makes nowadays different?

ZAKARIA: So, take the three big things, I think. Globalization, there was a massive explosion of globalization over the last 30 years. If you looked at globalization expanding in the '50s and '60s, you know, you had like Japan come online, then South Korea came online. And then in the '80s and '90s, China, India, all of Latin America, most of Africa, something like two and a half billion people suddenly joined the world economy.

And the data shows this. You know, trade as a percent of GDP in 1913, just before World War I, which was considered the height of the borderless world, was 30 percent. It's now 60 percent, it's doubled. Or take the identity revolution that has taken place. Just take women's lib. You know, throughout human history, some group has been up, some group has been down, and, you know, the one has persecuted the other. But for all of recorded history, women were second-class citizens. And in the last 40 years, that has changed. That identity revolution is causing, you know, a backlash.

You look at reactionary forces, whether they are Christian nationalists, whether they are Jewish, you know, ultra-orthodox, and of course, Islamic forces, they're all opposed to women's lib, to the emancipation of women. So, that's a perfect example of the scale of change in the last 40 years, has been huge, and the backlash as a result is huge as well.

ISAACSON: Well, you're talking about a communications revolution happening now, but you also mentioned Robert Gordon and others who say, you know, a hundred years ago in the early 1900s, we had everything from the telegram to electricity to trains. There was a huge communications revolution and some of the backlashes back then. Why is this revolution in technology different?

ZAKARIA: We created a whole new digital world. That's something so much bigger than whether or not, you know, the cars are running faster. Electricity is probably on that scale, but the digital revolution really created a whole new world, and it has changed our conception of who we are.

Think of what we're talking about now with A.I., where for the first time in history, we're talking about human beings being able to expand the quality and strength of their mind. We've never been able to do that before, and it's producing enormous anxiety about what that means, you know. So, the psychological effect of the information revolution may be greater than almost any of them we've had before.

ISAACSON: You talk about these cultural revolutions, and you've convinced me. I mean, we're living in this great revolutionary time. But of course, it's also a time of great backlash, which is what happens with revolutions. How does this end?

ZAKARIA: It seems like the backlash is winning at the moment. It does seem like the backlash is winning, or at least it's very strong everywhere you look.

I still believe that the forces of progress of liberal democracy are incredibly strong. We've never faced this kind of backlash before. But, you know, at some level, you look -- at the end of the day, you figure people will realize that they want freedom, they want choice, they want all the things that individual liberty and liberal democracy have given them. But it doesn't fill the hole in our hearts.

You know, this is one thing where I think Jefferson may not have gotten it quite right. People love the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but they don't quite know how to pursue it. You know, they find it easier to have some leader tell them or a church tell them, and there's that hole in the heart that liberalism leaves you with, that feeling of anxiety, of loneliness.

Liberalism has to find a way to answer that question. It used to be filled by religion, by nationalism. And what liberalism says is, no, it's your personal decision. Your pursuit of happiness is your own choice. And we get very uneasy with that, and it makes us anxious and it makes us want to go back to some Edenic time. You know, that's why all of these reactionary movements always promise you they're going to take you back to a time when life was simpler and that decision was made by somebody else. You don't have to have the anxiety of trying to figure out what is a good life.


ISAACSON: Farid, congratulations. The "Age of Revolutions." It's a great book. Thanks.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Walter.

Again, my new book is called "Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash From 1600 to the Present." It's out Tuesday. Hardcover, e- book, audiobook read by me.

Next on GPS, I will tell you which is the world's happiest country. Hint, it is not the United States.


ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. What is the secret to happiness? For the answer, you might want to book a flight to Helsinki because Finland has topped the list of the world's happiest countries for the seventh straight year. That's according to Gallup's 12th Annual World Happiness Report released this week.

The report ranks countries based on their citizens' own assessment of their life satisfaction on a scale of zero to 10. The Nordic countries, with their high levels of trust and robust social safety nets, all made the top 10.

The news this year is actually the relatively poor performance of the United States of America. It ranked 23rd on the list, right behind the UAE. It's down from 15th place in 2023. This decline is due at least in part to a highly disturbing trend. The market drop in happiness reported by Americans under the age of 30.

As NPR notes, researchers have long observed that happiness is typically high in one's early, carefree years, low in middle age, full of responsibilities like work and childcare, and then rising again in later years around 60 and above. But we do not see that trend at play in the United States today.

Take the rankings by age. If you only look at people age 60 and over, the U.S. is number 10 on the list of happiest countries. If you look at people under 30, the U.S. is in 62nd place, right under the Dominican Republic, which has a per capita income around one-eighth that of the United States. What is going on here?

For the past 10 to 15 years, the U.S. has been in the grips of a youth mental health crisis. Between 2009 and 2019, the rate of depression among adolescents nearly doubled. In 2021, more than 42 percent of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness compared to just 28 percent in 2011. In 2021, 30 percent of high school girls seriously considered suicide, up from 19 percent a decade earlier. And in 2021, nearly a quarter of high school girls made a suicide plan.

What explains this trend? You might say COVID, but these trends started well before the pandemic. In 2021, the social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge found that the share of 15-year-olds reporting high levels of loneliness at school rose sharply beginning in 2012, particularly in the English-speaking world.

Around the same time, a growing proportion of adolescents in the U.S. reported getting less than seven hours of sleep. As Twenge told The New York Times' Ezra Klein in an interview on his podcast last year, she tried to think about what could be causing such distress around 2012. Eventually, she trained her sights on a small but mighty culprit, the smartphone.

As Twenge notes, there was a huge jump in smartphone usage in 2012, and by January 2013, more than half of Americans owned a smartphone. By 2015, two-thirds of young people owned them. With smartphones came the ubiquitous use of often-toxic social media. And along with that, Twenge believes, came the crisis in youth mental health.

Now, there may be a multiplicity of factors that explain low levels of happiness in young people. Two scholars at Korea University looked at 2018 data from 72 middle and high-income countries. They found that 15-year-olds in relatively poorer countries tended to be happier than their counterparts in wealthier ones. The paper's authors write that this paradox is largely due to high levels of pressure in school. Schooling may be more rigorous in wealthier countries, demanding too much of young people, raising anxiety levels, and robbing them of the freedom of their adolescents.

There are other hypotheses. Young people are coming of age in a scary, disconnected world, one rife with war, natural disasters, climate change, guns in schools, soaring housing prices in the U.S., make home buying out of reach for many millennials. This all sounds grim, but looking back at the World Happiness Report, there is a sliver of hope.

Central and Eastern European countries have the opposite profile of North American. People under 30 there tend to be much happier than people over 60. That trend is particularly marked in countries like Sebria, Croatia and Bosnia.

One possible reason, young people didn't have to live through the war and strife that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. They are happy because they came of age in comparative peace. It suggests that out of even the ugliest histories, hope can be born.

Let that inspire all of us to work toward a better future for young people especially all the world.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.